‘Is Duterte the Marcos spokesman?’ – lawmakers

Bea Cupin

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‘Is Duterte the Marcos spokesman?’ – lawmakers
The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) adds, 'Not only has Duterte sponsored the official rehabilitation of the dictator, he now also facilitates the exemption of the Marcos heirs from accountability and punishment'

MANILA, Philippines – “Is it a joke? It looks like it is.”

Individuals and groups leading efforts and calls to hold the Marcos family accountable for government funds stolen during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos on Tuesday, August 29, expressed disbelief over President Rodrigo Duterte’s surprise announcement – that the Marcos family would “return” some of their wealth to the government.

In a speech at the mass oath-taking of new appointees in the Palace, Duterte said that through a “spokesman” of the Marcos family said they volunteered to return some of their wealth, including a few “gold bars.” It would be used to fund Duterte’s priority programs, according to the president.

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) said Duterte’s statements were “not acceptable… Both the terms of the supposed return of the ill-gotten wealth, as well as the explanation as to why the Marcoses plundered the economy and hid the loot,” the group said in a statement.

Duterte had explained in his speech that the Marcos family kept the wealth supposedly because they planned to return to Malacañang anyway. “The only reason, they said, their father was protecting the economy for the eventual – if he is exiled. But he thought of regaining Malacañang and that is why it looks like they hid it,” said Duterte.

“Not only has Duterte sponsored the official rehabilitation of the dictator, he now also facilitates the exemption of the Marcos heirs from accountability and punishment,” said CARMMA.

“Now it can be told: President Duterte has become the spokesman and the negotiator for the Marcoses,” the group added, noting that his mother “should be turning in her grave right now.”

Duterte’s mother, Soledad, was among the prominent anti-Marcos figures in Davao City.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat shared CARMMA’s sentiments. “It’s a bit odd that the President is speaking for the Marcoses on this issue when the latter has the media stature to make the commitment themselves,” he said in a text message to reporters.

Former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson and martial law abuse survivor Etta Rosales said the issue of ill-gotten wealth and how the family should pay for it, should be left to the courts and the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which was created specifically to recover the government funds stolen during the Marcos era.

Rosales noted that cases against the Marcoses are pending at the Makati Regional Trial Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, and a New York court. “It should be within this judicial framework where the issue is addressed. We need to be clarified. This is no arbitrary matter,” she added.

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin shared his disbelief as well. “If [the Marcoses] return the stolen wealth and make a public confession of their deeds, without conditions nor seeking immunity from criminal prosecution, it is an unexpected miracle,” he said.

He added: “Otherwise, this is just pure propaganda to lure the public to a false sense of reality where public outrage over killings have risen to a crescendo. Filipinos should know better when we are taken for a ride or not.”

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, a member of the House majority, said the president’s statements “should be further clarified.”

“Are there ongoing negotiations between Malacañang and the Marcos family for the return of plundered wealth? Does it involve all the plundered wealth or is the amount negotiable? Is the President suggesting that the Marcoses will not be held criminally liable?” he said, calling on transparency over these apparent discussions.

The supposed announcement from the Marcoses as coursed through Duterte is a surprise.

The family – including current Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who were young adults towards the end of the Marcos dictatorship – has not apologized for the dark era in Philippine history. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.